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Fleetwood Mac in good form
on 19 April 2003
After more than 30 years, Fleetwood Mac's longevity has become a Zen koan: They can't really break up because they're never really together.
For the last 15 years, every studio album finds at least one of the co-ed quintet's member MIA. This time, for instance, it's Christine McVie who decided to stay home.
Still, while the singer and keyboardist's absence frustratingly keeps Say You Will from being their long-awaited studio reunion, the return of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham -- back in a big way for the first time since 1987's Tango in the Night -- helps turn Say You Will into a decent return to form.
The songs (all by Nicks or Buckingham) recall the strummy, shimmering California pop of classic Mac, while tackling topics like 9/11. Buckingham's artful yet tempered production imbues the tunes with texture and depth, drawing you into the tracks. Nicks' vocals -- which can wander into nanny-goat range if left unchecked -- are reined in, emphasizing her dark, rich tones. Drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie are as in synch as an old married couple (which they almost are at this point). Even guitarist Buckingham is in fine form, injecting solos fiery enough to challenge players half his age.
When it all comes together (and it does fairly often on Say You Will) you can almost catch a glimpse of the old Fleetwood Mac, a band that was much more than the sum of its parts. And you realize they could be that again -- if they could ever get all those parts in the same room at the same time.